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|Back to Nature|
For those looking to get back to nature this Summer, the following events might be worth a look:
Plant Hunters Weekend
Lullingstone Castle & the World Garden, 21st & 22nd July 2012, 11am - 5pm
The World Garden at Lullingstone Castle celebrates the lives of some of Britain’s most intrepid plant hunters every year, one weekend in July. The Plant Hunters’ Weekend explores the origins of some of the most common plants grown in our gardens today but which are not native to Britain. Few people realise that some 80% of the plants we grow are not actually native to Britain but were introduced by British plant hunters who often risked their lives to bring back rare and exotic species.
These intrepid people heroically discovered the far-flung botanical delights of the world and have inspired Tom Hart Dyke, as a modern-day plant hunter, to travel all over the world. He has travelled widely, including to Australia, South America and the Canary Islands (see inset of Tom in La Palma), collecting the seeds of potentially hardy, ornamental specimens – albeit in his case with the help of a jet plane instead of a ship!
Tom will lead guided tours at midday and 2pm [no booking required] exploring the life of Victorian plant hunter David Douglas (see drawing above right, drawn by Tom’s late Granny Mary Hart Dyke), in a fascinating and lively portrayal as he made his expeditions to North America where he was responsible for the introduction of the lupin (Lupinus polyphyllus) and the Californian poppy (Eschscholzia californica).
Younger visitors can enjoy their own plant hunting expedition by taking part in Tom’s ‘Plant Hunter Quiz’ and explore the Labyrinth, a complex series of winding paths which are created on the lawn in front of Lullingstone Castle by Hugh Nisbet.
Beech Court Gardens, 2 August 2012, 2.30pm
Visitors to Beech Court Gardens in Challock (near Ashford) in Kent can enjoy a guided hydrangea walk and take the opportunity to explore the picturesque gardens. The walk is free with garden admission and visitors can hear about the garden’s history and wildlife while admiring the impressive red and blue hydrangeas and impressive trees, which provide welcome shade in the hot sun. There is always a warm welcome from the owners of these beautiful gardens where visitors can also meet the interesting assortment of goats and rare breed chickens. Surrounding a 15th century farmhouse this informal garden is truly a garden for all seasons. At all times the garden is framed by many varieties of rare trees including Acers, firs, pines, Kalopanax and the tallest Eucryphia in Kent. The autumn tints are classical and trees provide an ideal habitat for birdlife including nesting sites for a pair of Barn and Tawny owls, Kestrels and migrating varieties which the gardens are renowned for.
The site where the gardens are now found dates back to Saxon times, suggested by the discovery of Roman swords and artefacts. The house itself, which is not open to the public, dates back to 1415 but visitors can see the unusual shaped windows known as Dering windows from the gardens. The story behind the name connects to Mr Dering being chased by the Roundheads, and being a slim build he was able to escape through a window of this shape, the Roundheads were unable to follow him. He lived to tell the tale, so after his marriage to the beautiful maiden he was visiting he changed all the windows at his estate in Pluckley to this interesting shape.
The garden is open Saturday to Thursday between 10.30am and 5.30pm until October 31. Adult admission is £5, senior citizens £4.50, students/wheelchair users £2 and children £1. Groups of 15 and over £4. Adult season ticket £12. For further information and opening times at other times of the year visit www.beechcourtgardens.co.uk or call 01233 740735.
Lullingstone Castle & the World Garden, 11th & 12th August 2012, 11am - 5pm
Weekend will celebrate one of the most well-known, best-loved and one
of the largest flowering plant families in the world. Tom Hart Dyke will
lead guided tours of the World Garden with its beautiful selection of
sunflowers at 12:30 and 2:30pm.
Sunflowers, otherwise known as Helianthus, are part of the ginormous Asteraceae family and don’t just include the annual sunflowers such as the world famous Helianthus annuus, originating from the sunshine state of Florida (also known as the Flora Margarine Sunflower and grown commercially in countries such as France). The sunflower family also includes a range of stunning perennials that have such longevity in the flower power department – lasting from early summer to the last frosts – and are only now starting to become popular.
Hall Place and Gardens, 14 & 16 August 2012, 8pm
Join us on a dusk walk to listen to and see these nocturnal creatures in their natural habitat. Bat detector supplied! Followed by tea and cake.
£10 adults, £8 children. All tickets in advance.
Plant Heritage Plant Fair
Lullingstone Castle & the World Garden, 9th September 2012, 11am - 5pm